Gromilton’s Favorite Albums of 2021

2021 was another crazy year in which the world started opening up again only to have the leash pulled back on us. COVID continues to morph into variations keeping us on our toes. People are scared and extremely frustrated with how this virus has taken over the world and effectively kept us from living without fear. Vaccinations continue to be a hot debate and a difficult topic for bands looking to tour. The choice to enforce proof of vaccination for your shows or not is quite difficult to choose and can alienate your fan base. In some cases bands have chosen not to tour due to the high cost and concern for low attendance making it too financially risky. However, the growth of livestream opportunities have kept fans satiated for the time being. It’s been nice to watch a live performance or cinematic event from the comfort of my living room.

A lot of great music has come out due to bands not feeling rushed to write and record an album. This has also given me plenty of time to discover newer bands. It’s also given musicians the chance to write something different than they might usually do and form projects with other musicians. This is what I’ve been most excited about in 2021. My list below includes bands I had never known existence prior to 2021. I’ve enjoyed searching for new music almost as much as I enjoy seeing bands perform live. I had a good number of new discoveries make my list this year as you’ll see below.

My Favorite albums of 2021:

Swallow the Sun – Moonflowers. This band is in constant rotation for me and every new release of theirs I celebrate. Swallow The Sun speaks to my soul better than most bands out there. Moonflowers is such an emotional trip and the bonus version with the string trio performance of each song is magical and highly recommended from me. The collaboration with Cammie Gilbert of Oceans of Slumber on All Hallow’s Grieve is fantastic. The album is solid from start to finish.

Eastern High – Halo. Eastern High was a new discovery for me thanks to Spotify suggesting them. I heard Afterglow from their previous release and was instantly hooked. Then Halo came out and this band struck a chord in me. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this album. I love their riffs, vocals, melodies, and the songwriting is phenomenal in my opinion. Journey is an absolute favorite song of mine. The intro melody to that song is constantly stuck in my head.

Trivium – In The Court Of The Dragon. As a huge fan of Trivium from 2005-2010 In The Court of the Dragon is very exciting to me. I feel Trivium is finally showing what they’re capable of and are becoming the American metal band for the rest of us to aspire to. It felt like this band was constantly trying to find their style and have now perfected it with this album. I credit this to Alex Bent joining the band and with a capable and consistent drummer on their throne they’re poised to become the next big heavy hitters. Seeing them on Metal Tour of the Year just felt right. Nobody works harder than Trivium. Having followed them since I heard the demo of Like Light To Flies before Ascendancy was released it makes me proud to see their success.

Thyrfing- Vanagandr. Another new discovery for me. In fact that’s a huge theme for my list this year. A lot of bands that made my list I hadn’t heard prior to 2021. Thyrfing has been around for quite awhile. While that is exciting, as there’s a whole back catalog to go through, I feel sad having not found this band sooner. I don’t speak their language. The lyrics have to be translated to know the subject matter, which I have yet to do. However, I’m addicted to how they compose their songs. The dynamics they use are beautiful and it’s inspiring to me. They’ve given me a new look on melodic writing that I’ve seen creep into my guitar playing. The closing song of the album gives me goosebumps and sends me into a meditative state that I enjoy and look for from the music I listen to.

VOLA – Witness. Guess what?! Another new discovery this year! VOLA is a modern progressive metal band but without the technical focus most progressive bands like to showcase. I love this because they focus on the songwriting. It was different for me and that’s why it stuck out so much. Future Bird is a favorite and as a rap fan for all of my middle school years it was cool to hear a rap collaboration in the song These Black Claws.

Night Crowned – Hädanfärd. Night Crowned is a newer project featuring members of some well-known bands like Dark Funeral and Nightrage. I don’t venture into black metal very often. This band combines elements of black metal with melodic metal and therefore has me hooked. They blend these styles beautifully. I can’t stop listening. Another band that doesn’t speak English but that doesn’t deter me from enjoying their music. Also was a new discovery for me this year.

Mercury Circle – Killing Moons. ANOTHER NEW DISCOVERY! The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Mercury Circle shares a member with Swallow The Sun. The writing styles are slightly similar in which they’re emotionally heavy and atmospheric. I recommend devoting your full attention to their music when listening to Mercury Circle. It has some feelings of early U2 mixed with Swallow The Sun’s writing style. It’s a beautiful mixture. My favorites are An Arrow, You Open Up The Earth, Black Mirrors, and The Gates Wide Open.

Soen – IMPERIAL. I love how this band writes music. It’s great progressive metal that I highly recommend. The song Illusion was an instant favorite for me and was on rotation quite often this year. I don’t have a lot to say outside that. If you know of Soen you know what to expect and they delivered a Soen masterpiece yet again.

Gojira – Fortitude. I finally jumped on the Gojira bandwagon with this album. I’d been teetering the edge for awhile and Fortitude finally pushed me into their fandom. It’s a very well-written album and they have a unique sound I haven’t heard replicated by any other bands out there. Amazonia is an awesome song and I love quite a few of their guitar riffs from this album. Definitely worthy of your time.

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix. This may be getting old, but this is another new discovery for me this year. It’s felt like Christmas to me all year. I was constantly unwrapping new gifts for my ears. Evergrey is not a new band but I hadn’t found them until 2021. I’m wishing I had found them earlier but what do you do? This album has a few songs that were in constant rotation for me this year. I love the whole album but I was stuck on Forever Outsider, Where August Mourns, In The Absence of Sun, and Eternal Nocturnal. I can’t get enough of these songs.

Witherfall – Curse of Autumn. This is my album of the year. I can’t even begin to explain how awesome this album is. It has everything from exciting highs to emotional lows. Jake Dreyer’s guitar playing is phenomenal. His blend of acoustic and electric guitar playing is a fresh take on metal songwriting. If he isn’t on your radar yet then you’re missing out. Joseph Michael’s vocals are eerie and powerful and reminiscent of Warrel Dane and King Diamond at times. Curse of Autumn is an emotional trip from front to back with an excellent cover of Long Time by Boston. My favorites are Another Face and Tempest.

Favorite EP of 2021:

Insomnium – Argent Moon. This would be my album of the year if it were a full-length. Insomnium tried something new and toned down the metals with some acoustic offerings. I love what they did. The Conjurer was my most streamed song of the year, per Spotify. I found it very similar to Heart Like A Grave but just as powerful in its delivery. The Wanderer is another excellent written song. Insomnium never disappoints me. There’s a reason I have more of their merchandise than any other band.

Honorable mentions:

Duskmourn – Fallen Kings and Rusted Crowns

Eisbrecher – Liebe Macht Monster

Aephanemer – A Dream of Wilderness

Dark The Suns – Suru Raivosi Sydämeni Pimeydessä

In Mourning – The Bleeding Veil

Myles Kennedy – The Ides of March

The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Be’lakor – Coherence

Tremonti – Marching In Time

Joanne Shaw Taylor – The Blues Album

Joe Bonomassa – Time Clocks

Bloodred Hourglass – Your Highness

Shadecrown – Solitarian

Exodus – Persona Non Grata

Epica – Omega

Powerwolf – Call of the Wild

Omnium Gatherum – Origin

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